You’ve heard the stereotypes, right? Millennials, the lazy, unmotivated group, who have be brought up on participation trophies and free mobile phones. The group that will quit as soon as they hear someone tell them they have to “pay their dues” in entry level jobs, and they’ll take their Starbucks with them..

Stereotypes start somewhere and this one is no different. These folks come into a role wanting to “make an impact” and leave due to got getting what they want from the job. Millennials, as a generation have earned their reputation.

They’ve also earned their degrees through schools with more advanced teaching methods, up to the minute subject matter, while balancing more demanding extra curricular activities. The top millennials know how to work – and they know how to pay their dues too!

Simon Sinek uses an analogy of Millennials wanting what’s at the summit of the mountain, but not seeing the mountain – therefore, they are surprised they aren’t already at the summit. (The implication is they don’t want to, or wont, do the work needed to give them what they want)

I have a different interpretation. While millennials quit before they climb the mountain. It’s not because they can’t see the mountain or see it but can’t be bothered to climb it… They dont have a good enough REASON to climb it.

When your ‘Business Update’ meeting talks about ROI and shareholder value, you are telling them how the company is performing – but all those metrics are what the board what to hear. Employees want to know this stuff, but it’s not motivating them to climb the mountain.

When you put a ping pong table in the break room, it’s cool… but when the alarm clock (I mean cell phone) goes off at 6 a.m., they’re not looking forward to the challenge of taking on the reigning office champ at table tennis. Ping-pong tables in the break room are not how to form a millennial friendly culture, any more that putting a bag of flour on the counter-top forms bread.

Millennials have been told their whole life they can do whatever they want if they work hard – and they are prepared to work hard. However, if they don’t feel like they are changing the world, they’ll quit. If the purpose of the organization is those graphs of shareholder value – they aren’t climbing the mounting.

What is the reason some climb the mountain? What isn’t the question – the question is, Why?

Look to the countless examples of businesses that succeed with millennials. Google, Apple, Facebook etc. These companies (providing exceptional shareholder value) have visions that get people out of bed in the morning. These companies have purpose. Why are millennials staying at these companies? Because they are changing the world!

70% of millennials prioritize a purposeful career over salary. (based on a survey of nearly 4,000 millennials, source:

You might not be leading at Apple or Facebook, but if you want to employ and motivate (and retain) millennials, you better find a purpose for them to come to work – a purpose people can connect to emotionally. If not, in 2020 when millennials are over 40% over the workforce, you will probably be applying to work at one of the companies who figured it out years ago – but by then, a lot of those millennials will have paid those dues… Good luck.

P.S. If you

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